17 Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

May 19, 2013 · 33 comments

by Tom Walker

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

An increasing number of writers are being dragged (kicking and screaming in some cases) into the 21st century. They’re abandoning the use of pen and paper and starting to embrace the wealth of excellent writing apps currently available, all of which have been designed to make their working lives easier, more efficient and ultimately more enjoyable. As all writers know, penning any text from a short story to a novel, research paper or script is a fragmented process, which involves weaving together various characters, plotlines, ideas, and most probably hundreds of notes scribbled in notebooks scattered around the house or office, into one unified passage of text. Every writer will benefit from an app which will make this task any less arduous than it has to be. The 17 excellent apps explored in detail below guide writers of all types through every stage in the writing process, from initial idea formulation to the final draft and beyond. They perform a wide variety of tasks, including character, plot and story building; story structuring; note making and organising; spelling, grammar and readability checking; and so much more. Take a look and find the apps that are right for you.



1. StoryMill ($49.95)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

StoryMill, a piece of writing management software by Mariner for Mac users only, is packed full of great tools including a word frequency meter, cliché meter and progress meter. It offers a distraction-free full-screen word processor and lets you annotate your text quickly and easily. It also provides you with a database of every character, location and scene in your story. You can even display your story along a timeline.

2. Contour ($49.95)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Contour, again by Mariner, again for Mac only, is a story development app especially designed for writers of movie scripts. Contour helps writers follow the same character-based structure favoured by major Hollywood directors. It lets you organize your story more effectively and suggests what should come next based on the most marketable movie scripts.

3. Tinderbox ($229)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Overly complicated for many writers perhaps, Tinderbox is a comprehensive piece of Mac software which helps you organise your notes, plans and ideas. It arranges any notes you make in a highly intuitive manner, letting you organise them by both shape and colour. Tinderbox is expensive, but can prove invaluable when planning a book over a long period of time.

4. Jer’s Novel Writer ($30)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Jer’s Novel Writer, for Mac, helps writers get words down quickly when they’re in full creative flow. Once this flow has dried up, a suite of useful tools can be accessed to convert what’s been written into perfect prose. Tools on offer include a brilliant margin note and bookmark maker as well as a panel for making general notes as you go along.

5. Celtx (free)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Available for both Windows and Mac, Celtx is a powerful and free piece of media pre-production software, ideal for those writing screenplays, stage plays, films, documentaries, comics and much more. Celtx provides the full service. It not only helps you write scripts, storyboards, scenes and sketches, it helps you build interesting characters, schedule productions and even create reports for cast and crew.

6. Scrivener ($39.95)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Scrivener, for Mac, is a fantastic word processor and project management app for writers of long texts. It brings together all the tools a writer might require in one handy application. You can view and edit all text files, image files, PDFs, movies, sound files and web pages from inside Scrivener, researching in one pane while writing in another. Use Scrivener’s Corkboard to write notes, Outline to restructure and view your entire project, and Snapshot to easily revert back to earlier versions of your work.

7. WriteRoom ($24.95) & Dark Room (free)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

WriteRoom is a word processor for those who prefer to craft their copy without distractions. WriteRoom for Mac, and Dark Room, its Windows equivalent, offer the simplicity of a typewriter, but in digital form, letting you focus on your writing and nothing else.

8. LaTeX (free)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

LaTeX is a typesetting system for those who write technical and scientific papers, but feel restricted by the limited scientific capabilities of standard word processors. It lets writers express mathematic equations, scientific formulae, bibliographies, indexes and more, quickly and easily.

9. PaperToolsPro ($20 per year, $55 for life)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

PaperToolsPro is a web subscription service for students and other writers of research papers and other academic documents. It helps you avoid plagiarism by letting you collect quotes, sources and notes in your own words, together. It also speeds up the arduous process of bibliography writing and formatting. Once your work on PaperToolsPro is done, it can quickly be transferred to a word processor.

10. WhiteSmoke Writer (various)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

WhiteSmoke Writer is for all those who feel let down by the rather poor spelling and grammar checkers which come as standard on Microsoft Word and other popular word processors. WhiteSmoke will evaluate your grammar, readability, spelling and style, providing useful explanations for any mistakes you make. Versions of WhiteSmoke are available for General Writing, Business, Creative Writing, Bio-Medical Writing and Executive Writing.

11. StyleWriter ($160)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

StyleWriter is the world’s most popular writing style and usage checker for Windows users. Once downloaded, it is accessible via the Clipboard in Microsoft Word and Word Perfect. StyleWriter checks your work for thousands of writing faults, including the use of complex words, jargon, hidden verbs, passive verbs, clichés and long sentences. It claims to reduce your word count by 25%.

12. StoryView ($99.95)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

StoryView, for Windows, is perfect for writers who like to see a visual take on the structure of their work. StoryView’s timeline format helps you outline, plan, structure and organise your work, saving you lots of time sifting through long passages of text. You can change a sequence of events by clicking and dragging boxes and “size event boxes” can be used to express the duration and importance of different events in your story. You can even import finished stories or scripts wholesale into StoryView to analyze and critique other peoples’ work.

13. EverNote (free, premium for $5 per month)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

EverNote is a multi-platform app (Mac, Windows, iPhone, Android, BackBerry etc) which lets you make notes wherever you are, whether at home on your computer or out and about on your mobile, perfect for writers who never know where their next source of inspiration is going to come from. Type a note, grab a screenshot or clipping from a web page, or take a photo, and store them all in one safe place. Organise all these notes in EverNote and find exactly what you’re looking for in seconds.

14. PageFour ($34.95)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

PageFour is a word processor built specifically for creative writing. Using PageFour you can write character summaries, plot outlines, chapter summaries and other notes, and access them in seconds while you’re working on a story or novel. You can take Snapshot Copies as you write, which you can revert back to whenever your writing starts to veer off at a tangent. You can even scan your work for overused words and phrases

15. Final Draft ($229)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Final Draft, for Windows and Mac, is a hugely popular piece of screenwriting software used by writers whose work needs to meet certain standards set by the theatre and film industry. It’s endorsed by the Writers Guild of America. The current version, released on 26 October 2009, contains over 50 movie and TV script templates to follow, as well as computer generated voices which can ‘act out’ a script for you.

16. Scripped (free)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Used by over 20,000 writers in 75 countries, Scripped is a great app for those who work from various locations. Scripped lets you write (as well as save and print) a script straight into your web browser, meaning that your work is accessible anywhere in the world. Scripped automatically formats your script according to industry standards.

17. Dramatica Pro ($269.95, currently on sale for $199.99)

Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers

Perfect for novel writers, and available for Windows and Mac, Dramatica Pro poses a set of questions about each of your characters and plots to help you structure your vision for your novel. It also helps you incorporate all of your characters, plots, events and themes into acts, scenes and chapters, creating a seamless story. Dramatica Pro users are granted access to a vibrant online community who will discuss and critique your work with you if you so wish.

Author : Kevin

Tom works at CartridgeSave.co.uk, a supplier of printer cartridges based in the UK. Click here to read more of his work.


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Delaney March 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I am a retired pastor and love to write devotions for the lay person in the pew. I self published two books: A-Z Daily Devotional Journal and an autobiography, God’s Unfolding Plan. I am working on a new devotional book. Can I use open office or would it be better to purchase a writing software such as “Style Writer” or “Page Four.” What would you suggest?


William December 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm

What a wonderful site. Thanks for the list. I settled in on your #1 choice, Storymill, and it has
been an incredible tool. I’ve written a few novels with it and consider it my go to app.




Rod August 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Cheers for helpful information in your write-up 17 Fantastic Apps Made Especially for Writers!



Esther June 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm

For me and my Mac, there is only one application for writing: Scrivener. Once you understand all what this app can do for you, you never want to work with anything else ever again!


Marcus Speh July 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

…and another plug for tinderbox: to organise your thoughts via notes and links between thoughts is only one step away from putting your brain itself on paper. tinderbox is totally worth its price—i use it both to organise my short shorts and to write/prepare/research/plot novels, in connection with ulysses 2.0 as the actual writing tool.


Sherry July 16, 2011 at 2:43 am

I have a huge problem if someone can help me, I started my novel on my mac using Jer’s Writer..and I absolutely loved it. Well, went out of town, didn’t think to unplug my mac or my cable from the wall as everything was running through a surge protector…came back what had happened was we were hit hard by a storm, lightening struck the power lines…fried all electronics in my home. what I am getting at is this. With my novel being written on Jer’s writer, on my mac, mac is now dead, I have back up saved in my email …but now I am on a pc..I have no way to get to another mac to install Jer’s writer…so question is….is there anything out there that will open up the extension he used to create the program or is there another program that I can open my novel with so that I don’t lose all my work that I have been working on for the past 2 years? Any help would greatly be appreciated.



broome May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

try open office


Manny Jenkins November 4, 2010 at 4:56 am

That’s the proper URL: http://www.englishsoftware.org/


Angie McKaig April 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I’m also a big fan of Q10 for Windows. Similar to Dark Room – it gets everything else out of the way – and also has a very cool Typewriter sound you can turn on if you want to go “old school”. :)


Kailash Gyawali March 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

I use OMMWriter is really amazing, it should have been in this list too


tripwire team March 9, 2010 at 8:28 pm

@Kailash, I will take a look and probably add OMMWriter soon, thanks for your input!


Thomas McGee January 26, 2010 at 12:21 am

These are some nice desktop apps. It seems though, more and more these things seem to be switching to the web. Here’s a really nice web app I know of that’s great for writers: http://bit.ly/7ZOvdu


tripwiremag January 26, 2010 at 1:27 am

@Thomas, Thanks for the tip!


Matt Bango January 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

The best writing app I’ve seen is OmmWriter: http://www.ommwriter.com/

It is much better than WriteRoom and Dark Room in my opinion.


finnegan flawnt January 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm

i am also using ulysses and i find it wonderful for plain but not completely unstructured writing, the father of scrivener (which i find too overloaded to be of real use) and tinderbox, which is a marvelous tool. see also susan gibb’s stuff, all done in tinderbox at her hypercompendium site – http://susangibb.net/blog2/


februaryfour January 16, 2010 at 4:13 am

I can’t believe you left out Liquid Story Binder XE. Black Obelisk Software got my money within 3 hours, and I still use it for all my drafting. The Planner feature alone is worth it, but there is a lot more to it too. The only gripe I have is that this software is so powerful the learning curve is steep–I printed the manual out and read it cover-to-cover, and I still keep it handy for reference.


tripwiremag January 16, 2010 at 8:50 am

@februaryfour, thanks for the tip. Your experience with Liquid Story Binder XE will be valuable for readers looking for a tool.
@dave, having your experience with WriteRoom is really great!


dave January 16, 2010 at 3:55 am

WriteRoom is great. A bit hard to get used to if you’ve been using a computer for any period of time – ever – but, it does narrow your focus, funneling your energy into the writing project on screen without any peripheral disruptions.


Flex January 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

+1 for Ulysses.

It seems unintuitive at first, but once you get into the mindset (which doesn’t take long once you actually start writing) the semantic writing is very freeing, because you don’t have the later formatting in mind any more.


Marcus Speh July 17, 2011 at 11:42 am

i can only agree on the views on Ulysses 2.0 – a fantastic tool. i write a lot and not to have to bother with formatting, reminiscent of a blank sheet of (endless) paper is just wonderful. too bad Ulysses is only for apple mac but then again, there’s no real reason (other than lack of cash) for a writer (who wants to focusing on writing & blogging & researching stuff, which means hassle-free internet use) not to mac it.


Kenny Tran January 14, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Should also check out Ulysses http://bit.ly/8IB5G1 and CopyWrite http://bit.ly/8Hzyvz for the Mac


tripwiremag January 15, 2010 at 8:34 am

@Kenny, Great that you brought these to our attention.


Lauren January 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm


I’m Lauren from Springpad. Since I saw that you were posting about your experience using Evernote as a writer, I thought I’d let you know about Springpad (http://springpadit.com) which is similar to Evernote in that you can upload any notes or clip websites and access all your stuff online or on your phone. But, we take it a step further by putting all the info you store to work for you in our free apps. You can set alarms to be sent in emails or texts to remind of things you wanted to do or use our notebook app to keep track of your thoughts. WE have many other apps that help keep you organzied in almost any aspect of your life as well (restaurant tracker, wine list, date night planner…) Would love to get your feedback!


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